‘The Palestine Papers’ Shock the Middle East

January 24th, 2011 - by admin

Gregg Carlstrom / Al Jazeera – 2011-01-24 23:14:06


Introducing The Palestine Papers

(January 23, 2011) — Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents — memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations — date from 1999 to 2010.

The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials.

Al Jazeera will release the documents between January 23-26th, 2011. They will reveal new details about
• the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be “creative” about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount;
• the compromises the Palestinian Authority was prepared to make on refugees and the right of return;
• details of the PA’s security cooperation with Israel;
• and private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.

Because of the sensitive nature of these documents, Al Jazeera will not reveal the source(s) or detail how they came into our possession. We have taken great care over an extended period of time to assure ourselves of their authenticity.

We believe this material will prove to be of inestimable value to journalists, scholars, historians, policymakers and the general public.

We know that some of what is presented here will prove controversial, but it is our intention to inform, not harm, to spark debate and reflection — not dampen it. Our readers and viewers will note that we have provided a comments section in which to express opinions. In keeping with our editorial policies, we reserve the right to excise comments that we deem inappropriate, but all civil voices will be heard, all opinions respected.

We present these papers as a service to our viewers and readers as a reflection of our fundamental belief — that public debate and public policies grow, flourish and endure when given air and light.

FAQ: The Palestine Papers

What are the Palestine Papers?
The Palestine Papers are the largest leak of confidential files in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a cache of more than 1,600 documents encompassing the most recent decade of negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

They are an unprecedented window into Israeli, PA, US, European, and Arab relations and reveal a wealth of information about how the parties negotiate behind closed doors.

Taken in total, the Palestine Papers instigate a broader conversation on such issues as whether a two state endgame is achievable and desirable and whether international and US-led processes to reach that goal have only deepened Israeli occupation.

There are 1,684 total documents, including:
• 275 sets of meeting minutes;
• 690 internal e-mails;
• 153 reports and studies;
• 134 sets of talking points and prep notes for meetings;
• 64 draft agreements;
• 54 maps, charts and graphs;
• and 51 “non-papers.”

Why are most of these documents in English?

Because Israeli and Palestinian negotiators almost always conduct their meetings in English, not Arabic or Hebrew. The delegations occasionally talk amongst themselves in those languages — you’ll find such exchanges noted in the minutes — but the actual negotiations, and any documents reflecting their agreements, are in English.

The PDF versions of these documents say they were created in 2011. How do you explain that?

In order to protect the integrity of The Palestine Papers, Al Jazeera created fresh PDF copies of each document. They are exact duplicates of the originals, except where personal contact information was redacted (see below).

Why are certain documents redacted?

We have redacted personal contact information – e-mail addresses, mobile phone numbers, etc. – found in some of these documents.

Why are certain documents available only in PDF?

The formatting of some documents meant that we were unable to automatically import their text into our database. Instead, we’ve provided a summary of the document, and posted PDF versions for download. For those reasons, some documents in the database are not be keyword searchable and require manual examination.

Key Documents

Meeting Minutes: Trilateral — United States, Israel and Palestine
July 16, 2008

Meeting Minutes: Bilateral Post-Annapolis Plenary Session
June 21, 2008

Meeting Minutes: Ahmed Qurei, Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni
January 27, 2008

Meeting Minutes: Saeb Erekat and Karel de Gucht
March 23, 2007

Meeting Summary: Saeb Erekat and George Mitchell
October 1, 2009